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The United Nations is investigating allegations that five Uruguayan naval troops at a UN base in southern Haiti sexually molested an 18-year-old man in an attack reportedly captured by a cellphone camera.

The UN mission learned of the allegations last week and the scandal prompted Uruguay to sack its naval chief in Haiti.

The soldiers were confined to their barracks pending the outcome of the probe. Cellphone camera video

Shot with a cellphone camera, the clip shows several men in camouflaged uniforms laughing as they pin down a young man on a mattress.

The men seem to be saying "no problem" in Spanish as they hold the teen's arms and hands behind his back. The camera jumps around, and it's not clear from the video what's happening.

A magistrate in Port-Salut, the southwestern coastal town in which the assault allegedly happened, has gathered testimony from the alleged victim and his mother and filed it in court.

"UN Haiti peacekeepers accused of sex assault", CBC

Before the cellphone video emerged, the UN unilaterally denied these allegations. Inner City Press writes:

On August 17, Inner City Press asked Ban's now departed deputy spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: in Port-Salut there are complaints against the Uruguayan peacekeepers of MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], including on sexual abuse grounds --what is MINUSTAH’s response on this topic that Ban Ki-moon has recently said is so important to him?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: MINUSTAH is in fact looking into this to see about these allegations and whether there is any credibility to them.

The very next day on August 18, Haq began the noon briefing by reading out a denial:

"further to what I said yesterday on an investigation in Port-Salut, Haiti, the UN Mission there (MINUSTAH) tells us that the preliminary report of this investigation was finalized. After discussions with local authorities and members of the population in Port-Salut, the investigators found out that these allegations of misconduct could not be substantiated. The UN Mission in Haiti says that no supporting evidence was provided by anyone, and local authorities confirmed that these allegations were unfounded."

"UN Denied Sex Abuse Before Video Came Out in Haiti, Where New DPKO Chief Ladsous Defended Ouster of Aristide"

Here's the video. It's not perfectly clear, but strongly suggests abuse.

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Haitians return to Africa, bringing solar energy

SEATTLE, U.S., Aug 2, 2011 (IPS) - Jean Ronel Noël, a young Haitian engineer, stood in a centuries-old fort on a small island just off Dakar and looked out at the Atlantic through a portal that once led enslaved Africans to the ships of the Middle Passage.

"Finally we come to 'the door of the voyage of no return'," he wrote in a blog. "My blood wouldn't stop boiling, wave after wave of gooseflesh. I nearly broke down. So it's through that door that my ancestors passed. The Door of Hell! There are two infinite things, Einstein said: the universe and human stupidity."

Noël, though, had come to Senegal looking forward more than backward. He brought with him some technological keys that he believes can unlock the doors of a rich storehouse of renewable energy, and ultimately a more durable and self-sufficient model of development for Haiti and other poor countries.

A Senegalese firm specialising in solar-power installations, KAYER, had invited Noël and technician Frantz Derosier to visit the westernmost nation of West Africa to teach their employees how to fabricate their own photovoltaic (PV) panels, which convert sunlight into electricity.

Noël is co-founder, along with his partner Alex Georges, of ENERSA - Énergies Renouvelables, S.A. (Renewable Energies, Inc.). Derosier is one of their 20-odd employees. ENERSA manufactures solar streetlamps and other solar-energy equipment using PV panels that they build from scratch. They count around a thousand such lights installed in over 50 municipalities all over Haiti.

After the catastrophic earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, which knocked out electrical power across the Port-au-Prince area, these lamps were the only public light sources for some localities. The temblor also destroyed much of ENERSA's physical plant, but all the employees survived and the firm was able to restart production within a few months.

During the nine days Noël and Derosier were in Senegal, a former French colony like Haiti, they conducted a week of training sessions with KAYER in the headquarters of a peasant farmers' confederation in the town of Mekhe, about 100 kilometres inland from Dakar, the capital.

The sessions resulted in the first solar panels "made in Senegal". The ongoing collaboration, according to ENERSA, will cover the conception and manufacturing in Senegal of solar products, including solar streetlights. MORE


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U.S. Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians



WASHINGTON, Jul 27, 2011 (IPS) - Amidst growing fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default next week, a key Republican-led Congressional committee Wednesday approved deep cuts in foreign aid and contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions next year.

While leaving some eight billion dollars in President Barack Obama's requests for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan relatively untouched, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to the rest of the developing world by an average of around 25 percent.

It also made major cuts in U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. and some of its specialised agencies, and some international financial institutions (IFIs).

It sliced a total of 600 million dollars from the administration's 3.5-billion-dollar request for the U.N. and its peacekeeping operations, for example.

It also halved Washington's 143-million-dollar 2012 pledge to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and zeroed out U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rejected proposed capital increases for IFIs that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

It cut the operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 35 percent, essentially reversing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts to build up the ranks of both agencies.

Moreover, it made significant cuts to major programmes designed to help some of the world's most vulnerable people.

It cut 18 percent – to just over seven billion dollars – from Obama's request for global health projects, which had been one of former President George W. Bush's signal foreign-policy achievements.

It cut Obama's requested family-planning programmes worldwide by 40 percent, from 770 million dollars to 461 million dollars, and reinstated the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services.

And it cut development assistance by 12 percent, from 863 million dollars this year to 758 million dollars in 2012, and emergency refugee and migration assistance by 36 percent, from 50 million dollars to 32 million dollars. ...

On the Middle East, the bill calls for 1.3 billion dollars in aid to Egypt, provided that the secretary of state can certify that its government is adhering fully to the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel and that no part of its government is controlled by a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation".

The latter condition also applies to Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, while any Palestinian government that forms an agreement with Hamas would not be eligible to receive U.S. aid. Lowey, the ranking Democrat, indicated support for the Middle East provisions of the bill. Earlier this month, she co-signed a letter with Granger to PA President Mahmoud Abbas warning him that his pursuit of recognition for Palestine at the U.N. would likely cost him all of the nearly 500 million dollars Washington provides to the PA. MORE
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

Read more... )
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MALAWI Women Get Dirty to Stop Water Scarcity

MACHINGA DISTRICT, Malawi, Jul 19, 2011 (IPS) - Ethel James cannot wait for the gravity-fed water scheme in her area to be fixed so that she and the other women in her village will no longer have to wake up before dawn everyday to queue for water.

She is part of the team of local villagers repairing the existing water system, which consists of a pipeline connected to a reservoir. At various points in the village are taps connected to the pipeline, but there is no running water just yet.

The water supply system fell to disrepair in the mid-1990s after government could no longer maintain it.

With the assistance of Water Aid Malawi, an international charity that assists people in accessing safe drinking water and sanitation, the community has taken over ownership of the scheme that covers Kwilasha village in Machinga District, southern Malawi and 13 surrounding villages.

People have been organised into clubs, with women assuming leading roles. Women are also involved in the laying of pipes and the digging of trenches. Community members are replacing old pipes with new and larger ones and expanding the network to reach more people.MORE
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UN Agency: Women Bow Out of Snarled Justice Systems

NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.

In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.

One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.

Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.


Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.

To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
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UN security council to consider climate change peacekeeping

A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change.

Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence.

There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, is expected to address the meeting on Wednesday.

But Germany, which called the meeting, has warned it is premature to expect the council to take the plunge into green peacemaking or even adopt climate change as one of its key areas of concern.

"It is too early to seriously think about council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, wrote in the Huffington Post.

"A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security," he wrote.

Bringing the security council up to speed on climate change could be a challenge, however.

The Pentagon and other military establishments have long recognised climate change as a "threat multiplier" with the potential to escalate existing conflicts, and create new disputes as food, water, and arable land become increasingly scarce.

Wittig seems to agree, noting that UN peacekeepers have long intervened in areas beyond traditional conflicts.

"Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal - but would dealing with the consequences of climate change - say in precarious regions - be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?" he wrote.MORE
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Palestinians Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons


EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

"I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes," Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. "All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis."

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated. MORE


2010 The People Speak

GAZA CITY, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - The focus on people's movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel's separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.

In July, 2010, the United Nations IRIN news reported that roughly 39,000 Palestinian children from Gaza would not have schools to attend, following the destruction or severe damage of some 280 schools and kindergartens during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and the continued inability to repair or rebuild due to the severe Israeli-led siege on Gaza and lack of construction materials.

The UN also reports that 88 percent of UNRWA schools and 82 percent of government schools operate on a shift system as a result, still resulting in serious overcrowding. MORE


2010 Divided we Educate

Due to the endemic poverty in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children are forced on to the streets by parents who are living below the poverty level in a desperate bid to eke out a few extra dollars to help their families survive.

These children should be in school securing a better future for themselves but Israel's discriminatory education policies between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem is driving these youngsters out of school – if they are lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place.

Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Jamal Zahalka claimed earlier in the year that "educational provision for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is worse than anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria."

More than 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem do not attend school at all. The dropout rate for Palestinian school students in East Jerusalem is 50 percent, compared with about 12 percent for Jewish students.

"The rate of school dropouts, and the level of poverty amongst Palestinians in East Jerusalem, is frightening," Orly Noy from the Israeli rights group Ir Amim told IPS.

"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," adds Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

The two Israeli human rights organisations accused the Israeli authorities of deliberate discrimination in a report titled 'Failed Grade – The State of the Education System in East Jerusalem'. MORE



2009 Textbooks Become a Dream

A chronic shortage of school supplies, and severely overcrowded classrooms are crippling Gaza's educational system as tens of thousands of children begin a new school year.

Israel's hermetic sealing of the strip, as part of its blockade against Hamas, has prevented most supplies of paper, textbooks, notebooks, ink cartridges, stationery, school uniforms, school bags, and computers and their spare parts.

"Through our education system the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is spreading the message of universal respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence and tolerance in an atmosphere that since the blockade has become increasingly desperate and radicalised," says UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

"The best way for Israel to prevent us spreading that message to the 200,000 Gazan children at our schools is to block us sending in educational supplies," Gunness told IPS.MORE
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TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE DESCRIPTIONS:


Via Shakesville

Assange Lawyer Concedes 'Disrespectful,' 'Disturbing' Sexual Acts

Read more... )


No dude. That is NOT consensual.

Like Shakesville says:


Supposing Assange's victims did actually "consent" to the continuation of acts of rape, about which I am profoundly dubious, Assange's own attorney now concedes that was, at best, what happened here: His victims gave "subsequent consent" to sexual activity for which explicit consent was neither sought nor given, after having been assumed, for months, to have invented the act of rape out of revenge or because they were government operatives or whatthefuckever.

I think I may have pointed out once or twice or three million times in this space that the people who benefit from rape apologia and victim-blaming, of the precise sort that we've seen with regard to the accusations against Julian Assange, are rapists.

Which is a pretty strong incentive not to engage in it, if you don't like rape or rapists.

But somehow it's never strong enough to deter the invocation of the same old tired rape culture narratives when it comes to defending an Important Man Doing Important Work.

Whoops. You defended a rapist.MORE


Further reading:


From scarleteen.com How can men know if someone is giving consent or not? possible trigger warnings as the article describes situations which are rape in order to point out to all and sundry that these situations are in fact, rape.

And if you buy one book this year, or borrow it from the library, it should be this one:

The Revolution Starts at Home:Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities
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xposted:

TRIGGER WARNING FOR VIOLENCE COMMITTED DURING THE RAPE AND VERBAL VIOLENCE COMMITTED UPON THE VICTIM BY THE FUCKING POLICE.



Strauss-Kahn's Accuser Doubly Vicitimised, Advocates Say

"All of those things do not have anything to do with whether or not she was raped," said Human Rights Watch's Marianne Mollman in an interview with IPS.

"I would like to see one single person who has never told a lie in their life," she added.

Thompson acknowledged the significance of the new information.

"Her credibility is important, any rape victim's credibility is important," he said, "but you cannot become blind to the physical, corroborating evidence." The real question, he said, is, "What is true?"

He noted photos of the accuser's bruises, doctor's reports of a shoulder injury, and a pair of stockings, allegedly torn by Strauss- Kahn as the woman tried to escape.

Read more... )
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2009 The failed promise of aid in Africa: Review of Dead Aid and Ending Aid Dependence

Ama Biney reviews two recent books, united in their call for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency, but with sharply contrasting ideological visions for how to do this and to what end: Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa and Yash Tandon’s Ending Aid Dependence.

What these two books have in common is firstly that they have exceptionally compelling titles for those interested in their subject matter. Secondly, is the obvious fact that they are concerned with aid and Africa. Thirdly, these books will interest those students, policymakers and government officials who ostensibly claim to be interested in eradicating aid. However, this is where their similarities end. The two authors have sharply contrasting ideological visions for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency. This is indisputably on account of their backgrounds. Moyo has worked at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, studied at Harvard and Oxford universities, whereas Tandon is a radical scholar, public intellectual and former director of the South Centre (an intergovernmental think tank of the developing countries). In other words, their different experiences not only inform their analysis of aid, but their wholly differing prescriptive solutions to Africa’s myriad problems, which they agree are rooted in aid dependency.

Both authors eloquently illustrate how aid has failed to deliver the promise of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Africa. Moyo’s caustic attack is greater than Tandon’s. She forcefully argues that not only has aid often been stolen by corrupt governments, it has often been unproductive; it has led to indebtedness and as President Paul Kagame of Rwanda poignantly states, since 1970, much of the US$300 billion allocated to Africa was spent on creating and sustaining client regimes of one type or another, with minimal regard to developmental outcomes on the continent (p. 27). Moyo claims that aid ‘is the silent killer of growth’ (p. 48). In chapter four she gives a cogent critique of the damaging effects of aid in that it reduces savings and investment as a result of the ‘crowding-out effect’ of aid; it discourages private finance capital; causes inflation; stifles the export sector and inculcates an aid dependent psychology in African people (pp.61-66).

On the other hand, Tandon’s ‘aid taxonomy’ is a far greater analytical breakdown of the five different types of aid, compared to Moyo’s simplistic three forms (humanitarian or emergency aid, charity aid and bilateral/multilateral forms of aid). Using a colour classification Tandon identifies purple aid as based on the principle of solidarity; green/blue aid encompasses humanitarian aid and transfer of technical assistance; yellow aid is given on the principle of geo-strategic and security interests; orange aid are concessionary grants given for commercial gain – and in Tandon’s opinion should not be considered as aid – and lastly red aid is given on the basis of ideological principle to influence countries to implement the policies of the Washington Consensus (pp. 18-22). Tandon contends that it is this latter aid that permeates and dominates the kinds of aid given by the DCD-DAC. MORE





2009 Why Aid to Africa must Stop



Ending aid dependence: Asserting national autonomy: Yash Tandon

Read more... )



Humanitarian Aid 101: #1 – Aid cannot and will not fix anything


Read more... )
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U.N. Women's Agency Being 'Strangled at Birth'


UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.

But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.

Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.

"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.

Addressing the first regular meeting of the 41-member executive board of UNW early this week, he said: "We must not be oblivious of the fact that activities enumerated in the Strategic Plan need resources."

The Strategic Plan envisages financial requirement of nearly 1.2 billion dollars in 2011-13.

"If we have to ensure that U.N. Women stands for action, the donor community has to make generous contributions to U.N. Women," said Ambassador Puri.
MORE
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via: fyeahafrica Today, June 30th marks the 51st Independence Anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Colonial Rule

Belgium colonized DRC in 1877, when King Leopold II commissioned journalist Henry Morton Stanley to explore the Congo, secure treaties with local chiefs and establish the contacts needed to form a commercial monopoly of the land. Leopold named this area the Congo Free State and immediately began exploiting its natural resources. To keep this colony profitable, torture and execution were used to force native Africans to work in the mines. This oppressive regime was the setting of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness.

Belgian rule in the Congo included missionary efforts to civilize and Christianize native Africans, and many Congolese citizens were educated at the secondary level or higher. In the early 1950s, these educated individuals - known as evolues - became unhappy with how they were being treated and petitioned the colonial government for reform. The evoluee demand for independence erupted into riots in 1959.

Although the Belgian government was reluctant to let go of the Congo’s vast resources, it realized it had neither the force nor the authority to maintain control. At the Brussels Round Table Conference of 1960, the Belgian government granted Congo its independence. In May of that year, national elections were held. Joseph Kasavudu was elected president of DRC, and Patrice Lumumba was named prime minister.

Independence

Congo's government was troubled from the beginning. Merely five days after independence was granted, violent conflict erupted between Belgian and Congolese citizens, as well as among Congolese ethnic groups. Lumumba asked the United Nations to intervene. The U.N. Security Council authorized a military force to remove Belgian troops and restore order to the land. When they were unable to do so quickly, Lumumba asked the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for help. It provided Lumumba's troops with weapons and military training.

Under the guise of fighting the spread of communism, the U.S. backed rebel Mobutu Sese Seko in a military coup that resulted in Lumumba's seizure, torture and execution. Because this move was motivated more by U.S. interests in the vast mineral resources of this area than in securing a peaceful future for DRC, U.S. efforts to establish a stable government after the uprising were half-hearted. So What Happened?
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Egypt Rejects IMF Conditions

CAIRO, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - Egypt has cancelled plans to borrow 3 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund because of conditions that violated the country’s national sovereignty and a public outcry that warned against terms that were blamed for impoverishing many Egyptians.

According to several Egyptian newspapers, General Sameh Sadeq, member of the country’s ruling military council, said the country turned down the loans, and those under discussion with the World Bank, because there were "five conditions that totally went against the principles of national sovereignty." Gen. Sadeq didn’t detail what these conditions were.

The IMF loan would have made Egypt the first recipient of funding in the Middle East since the so-called Arab Spring movement against Western-backed dictatorships began late last year.

At a Group of Eight summit last month in Deauville, France, the IMF announced that it could make available as much as 35 billion dollars in loans to the countries of the Middle East over the next few years.

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick in May announced 6 billion dollars in funding over the next two years for Egypt and Tunisia, the two countries where the Arab uprisings started, to help the two post-revolutionary nations modernise their economies. Egypt’s share would have been 4.5 billion dollars.

General Sadeq’s statements on Tuesday contradict statements by the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his Finance Minister Samir Radwan, who both served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, that the new loans came with no conditions. Both officials have advocated publicly for more loans to ward off the specter of a budget deficit, a staple argument in many countries for IMF and World Bank loans.MORE


At this point, NO COUNTRY SHOULD BE BORROWING FROM THE IMF. NONE.
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Aftershocks of International Interventions

...In a recent New York Times article, Nathanial Gronewold finds that "Lessons From 2004 Tsunami Will Guide Redevelopment Efforts in Haiti." Unfortunately Gronewold's rosy account of post-tsunami successes overlooks the lessons we didn't learn, and loses even more credibility in its reliance on the expertise of one of the largest evangelical Christian relief groups. Working in a heavily affected area on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka in the weeks after the tsunami, we came across a group of bewildered orphans imitating chants directed by a team of scientologists in bright yellow (happiness-inspiring?) t-shirts. Reports of John Travolta's heroic transport of scientology ministers into the Port-Au-Prince airport and their food distribution (to patients not allowed food while waiting to undergo surgery) leaves one envisioning the confused faces of the unfortunate Haitian children they are certain to seek out.

Other unhelpful intrusions into vulnerable spaces (such as schools and orphanages) are likely to resurface in affected areas across Haiti. Art therapists in Sri Lanka came armed with crayons, paper, one week's leave—and very little understanding of the social and political context they were working in. Two hours later the war-affected children's images of bombs, bloody limbs, and destroyed homes left the therapists looking overwhelmed and entirely unsure of how to deal with the trauma these pictures revealed. These repeat mistakes, while jarring, are shallow and their impact is likely to fade along with the glare of the twenty-four-hour media coverage.

There are, however, mistakes that have left an indelible mark on communities across South Asia—mistakes we cannot afford to repeat. MORE
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World Economy: Women Weigh in on Poverty, Work and Debt


The International Museum of Women's online exhibit on women and the economy, features slideshows, podcasts, videos and essays on women from countries such as Sudan, Denmark, Philippines, USA, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina and how they view issues such as poverty, business, family, rights, money and much more.

Economica, IMOW's online interactive exhibit sets out to explore women's contribution in the global economy. Picturing Power and Potential, was a juried photography exhibit showing different ways in which women participate in the economy and are agents of change.

For example, the exhibit's Community Choice Award winner was Brenda Paik Suno, a third generation Korean-American who took pictures of a Jeju Granny of the Sea, a woman who is part of the tradition of female divers of the Jeju Islands who have harvested the sea for generations:


MORE



White House Communications Director Dodgey When Asked about War on Women


Daily Kos Associate Editor Kalli Joy Gray: I'd like to ask you about a different kind of war, and this is a war that I am particularly concerned about.

White House Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer: Okay.

Gray: The war on women. [Audience applause.] We're seeing an unprecedented number of attacks on women at the state and federal level—everything from contraception to health care to food stamps, um, drug-testing of women receiving welfare in Florida. Women in Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, are talking openly about a war on women. So, I want to know if the president agrees with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and our new DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: Well, what I can say is that there is no question that there is a sustained effort from Republicans at the federal and state level to, uh, undo a lot of the progress we've done. I think the most, uh, prominent example was the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, uh, during the government funding battle a few months ago, which the president, uh, at that point told the House Republicans that if they wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, that they were going to have to shut down the government over it. We see this in Indiana, where, uh, Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law an effort that would, uh, illegally defund Planned Parenthood, and the federal government is involved in a lawsuit to stop that. And so he, the president, is very concerned about all of these efforts, uh, and the ones on the federal level that we can play an active role to stop, including the use of the veto pen, uh, the president will do that.

[Note from Liss: Notice that Gray asked him a yes or no question: Does the president agree that there is a war on women? And instead of straightforwardly answering her question, Pfeiffer mansplains the problem to her, as if she and her audience are stupid and/or unaware of the issues affecting women. The thing is, he implicitly answers yes just by his reflexive defensiveness; there's no need to defend the president's record if you don't agree that there's a war on women—but he won't say it, because openly acknowledging there is a war on women is to then admit that the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act ain't fucking enough. Gray, fortunately, zeroes in and does not let him off the hook.]

Gray: Yes, but we also saw during the healthcare debate that, when it comes down to it, women's issues take a back seat for the "larger" issues, so, for example, the president said that accepting the Hyde Amendment, which punishes poor women in this country, was an acceptable status quo and that we needed to put that aside for the bigger picture. So, I'll ask again: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: [pause] Let's talk about healthcare for a second, which is— [Gray laughs mirthlessly at his obvious evasiveness; the audience laughs; Pfeiffer holds up his finger, gesturing to her to hold on and listen.] The, the, the Hyde Amendment— ["Just say yes!" someone shouts from the audience] The Hyde Amendment was, uh, was the law of the land, and so—

Gray: It's renewed every year. It is not the law of the land. It is renewed every year. [Audience applause.]

Pfeiffer: Right, and, and if we tried to repeal it in health reform, there would be no health reform. And that, that was, that was the choice. It was a very simple choice, and so—

Gray: It was a simple choice?

Pfeiffer: It was, well, it's, you have two options—it's simple in the fact that you have two options; it's not an easy choice! [He says this like Gray is being a jerk.] You have two choi—you have two options: And it was no health reform and make that attempt, which would've failed and would most certainly not have passed the United States Senate, so that's the choice you have to make.

[He says this in this really matter-of-fact way, as if anyone would question the decision is an asshole, and when he says "the choice you have to make," I wonder who that "you" is supposed to be, really, because it's definitely not the women who are left without any choice because of the Hyde Amendment.]
MORE
I... didn't know that the Hyde Amendment was renewed every year. Are we for real??? Instead  of  making progress so that the damn thing LAPSES, we keep passing it like its no big thing????
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
TRIGGER WARNING: The IMF's activities are compared to rape further down in the article. Sorry I forgot that part. Johann Hari: It's not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial

The IMF’s official job sounds simple and attractive. It is supposedly there to ensure poor countries don’t fall into debt, and if they do, to lift them out with loans and economic expertise. It is presented as the poor world’s best friend and guardian. But beyond the rhetoric, the IMF was designed to be dominated by a handful of rich countries – and, more specifically, by their bankers and financial speculators. The IMF works in their interests, every step of the way.

Let’s look at how this plays out on the ground. In the 1990s, the small country of Malawi in south-eastern Africa was facing severe economic problems after enduring one of the worst HIV-AIDS epidemics in the world and surviving a horrific dictatorship. They had to ask the IMF for help. If the IMF has acted in its official role, it would have given loans and guided the country to develop in the same way that Britain and the US and every other successful country had developed – by protecting its infant industries, subsidising its farmers, and investing in the education and health of its people.

That’s what an institution that was concerned with ordinary people – and accountable to them – would look like. But the IMF did something very different. They said they would only give assistance if Malawi agreed to the ‘structural adjustments’ the IMF demanded. They ordered Malawi to sell off almost everything the state owned to private companies and speculators, and to slash spending on the population. They demanded they stop subsidising fertilizer, even though it was the only thing that made it possible for farmers – most of the population – to grow anything in the country’s feeble and depleted soil. They told them to prioritise giving money to international bankers over giving money to the Malawian people.

So when in 2001 the IMF found out the Malawian government had built up large stockpiles of grain in case there was a crop failure, they ordered them to sell it off to private companies at once. They told Malawi to get their priorities straight by using the proceeds to pay off a loan from a large bank the IMF had told them to take out in the first place, at a 56 per cent annual rate of interest.
The Malawian president protested and said this was dangerous. But he had little choice. The grain was sold. The banks were paid.

The next year, the crops failed. The Malawian government had almost nothing to hand out. The starving population was reduced to eating the bark off the trees, and any rats they could capture. The BBC described it as Malawi’s “worst ever famine.” There had been a much worse crop failure in 1991-2, but there was no famine because then the government had grain stocks to distribute. So at least a thousand innocent people starved to death.MORE



And then. And this is what makes me RAGE. Because the BBC and CNN and whoever the fuck else cover this shit DON'T TELL YOU that this is what's behind those famines and shit. OH NO. They take pictures of death and starvation that win prestigious awards and they write articles bemoaning how Africa just can't get itself together, that dark continent filled with incompetent (and tribal and dictatorial) Africans that it is... and they highlight all those charities and NGOs filled with white people who go down to Africa to help those poor people and volunteer their lives and aren't the Africans so grateful for their help...And so Africa is kept in a subordinate position, all the easier for the West to enrich itself on stolen goods. And when we're done we yell overpopulation. Because it is really those whom we have forced to live on less than $1 a day who are causing the overuse of the world's resources. Oh yes.

And of course, to actually point out that it is our countries' FOREIGN POLICY as enacted by the IMF and the World Trade Organization that helps in large part to cause this shit might just cut off the gravy train, wouldn't it? It might just convince the ordinary citizens of Western Europe and America that while we are doing that democracy thing, we might really want to pay some attention to foreign policy. Beyond the various wars that we are enacting. Or maybe I am giving them too much credit. And of course, you need to convince the denizens of the countries from which you are stealing everything from that its their fault entirely that they are suffering. You need to devalue their own perceptions of what the reality is, you need to colonize their minds and thus make them pliable to being stolen from, or at least to not realize that they are being stolen from. And if they get too uppity starve them, sicken them, murder them, empower fundamentalists by giving them guns and money and set them loose upon their political structures. Send in the CIA, the MI5, at the last resort, your armies... and glorify your murderers and infiltrators efforts in the movies so that you can find cannon fodder among your citizenry with which to enforce your murderous, rapacious will. And then of course, they  have the NERVE, the AUDACITY, the complete and utter EFFRONTERY AND GALL, to call themselves..."civilized".
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Another Push for Reproductive Rights

WASHINGTON, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - By 2015, women demanding family planning products and services in the developing world will likely reach 933 million, a terrific increase from the current 818 million women demanding access to these basic reproductive commodities.

In addition, according to the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC), the number of family planning users will soar from 603 million to 709 million - an increase of 64 million users across 66 developing countries, and 42 million spanning 89 middle-income countries - by the middle of the decade.

The increased cost associated with this skyrocketing demand is an estimated 5.7 billion dollars per annum for both low- and middle-income countries - including the expenses of procuring more contraceptive commodities, securing transportation for the products, expanding communication capabilities to educate the public, and stepping up training for health providers to distribute reproductive products and services.

"Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception," John Skibiak, director of the RHSC, wrote earlier this month. "This is, without a doubt, a horrifying figure. But the greatest tragedy for us - those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to ensuring global access to family planning - is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades… Each step forward is more than matched by comparable increases in demand in new users, [so] despite our best efforts, we are caught in a deadlock."MORE
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
LABOUR Neither Servants nor Family Members, Simply Workers

GENEVA, Jun 16, 2011 (IPS) - The world's tens of millions of domestic workers finally won international recognition that they have the same basic labour rights as other workers, in a convention adopted Thursday at the annual meeting of the ILO.

The landmark treaty, approved by an overwhelming majority at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, states that "domestic workers are workers," said ILO (International Labour Organisation) director general Juan Somavia. "They are neither servants nor members of the family."

That is the main point of the Convention on Domestic Workers, and was the biggest obstacle in the discussions, Karin Pape, coordinator of the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), told IPS.

It means "domestic workers are not helpers. We are not maids, and we are not servants. Certainly none of us should be slaves. We are workers," said Pape.

Although the convention was approved by a vote of 396 to 16, with 63 abstentions, it was not an easy task.

Discussing the difficulties in reaching agreement on the new convention, ILO legal specialist on working conditions Martin Oelz said "It's a new topic. This is a group of workers that is excluded in many countries from the labour legislation for various reasons - historical reasons, cultural reasons."

That was a hurdle that had to be broken down, and "it took some time," he said. The ILO, which has a tripartite system of government – trade unionists, employers and governments – began to deal with the issue as far back as 1965, he pointed out.MORE
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Kucinich files suit over U.S. involvement in Libya

Antiwar Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) filed suit in federal court Wednesday seeking to halt the U.S. military action in Libya, saying it is unconstitutional.

Kucinich and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, another longtime war critic, led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the latest challenge to the White House's authority to conduct the campaign without seeking congressional approval under the War Powers Act.MORE



White House sees no need for congressional approval on Libya


Calling the U.S. military operation in Libya "limited," the White House says that congressional authorization is not required to continue involvement in the coalition effort there.

That determination was explained in a 30-page memo sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, just shy of the 90th day of the engagement of U.S. assets in the Libya campaign.

Lawmakers have become increasingly uneasy over the administration's interactions with Congress about the scope and duration of U.S. involvement in the NATO-led mission.MORE


Truth dispatch: Updates from Libya

Read more... )




In Libya's Gasoline Shortage, Women Get A Break

Read more... )


Libyan rebels wrest western mountain villages

Read more... )

African Leaders Demand Halt to NATO Bombing Campaign in Libya

Read more... )
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Violence against Women surges when war is done


Rosemary Gonzalez was murdered in 2009, the victim of a war that ended in 1996. One day, 17-year-old Rosemary said good-bye to her mother Betty, walked out of their small house on the outskirts of Guatemala City and was never seen alive again.
Rosemary and Betty lived together in the poor neighborhood of Barcenas, under the constant shadow of violence. Across Guatemala, nearly 5,000 women have been killed in the past decade, attacked for the simple fact of being women. The women of Barcenas know well this fear—they live at the epicenter of this crisis.

In Guatemala, generations of women have faced murderous violence, but at its core is war. Now, the same dynamic is emerging in Iraq.
Some description of rape and murder and torture under the cut. )
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[personal profile] la_vie_noire
Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

We need to move beyond the shock and titillation of sex crimes. We need to move beyond any scintilla of belief that some men—elite economists, for example—couldn’t possibly be perpetrators and some women—prostitutes, for example, or wives—couldn’t possibly be victims. Haven’t the scandals involving Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Peace Corps workers, heads of state, and UN Peacekeepers taught us at least this? Haven’t the statistics and personal accounts and visual evidence of the sexual victimization of half of humanity—from infant girls to the most fragile elderly women—taught us at least this? The ubiquity of sexual violence points to some very stark realities about the mundane lives of “ordinary” women and girls, and men and boys.

[...]

William Simmons and Michelle Tellez conducted a study in Arizona and northern Mexico that documented the multiple sexual victimizations endured by undocumented migrant women and girls on their journeys to the United States. Though this phenomenon is shockingly widespread and fairly well documented, it is rarely reported in the mainstream media or even among scholars. While estimates of prevalence are difficult to verify, it is clear that hundreds if not thousands of migrants are the victims of violent sexual assaults each year in Arizona. If such crimes were perpetrated against Anglos, or citizens, or visitors from Europe, or just about anyone other than poor, Latina, undocumented migrants, it would be front-page news for weeks.

Far more is known about the horrendous sexual violence in the Eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo than is known about the crimes against migrant women and girls in the United States. Somehow it is easier on our consciences to show outrage at the mass rapes in Eastern Congo than it is to pay attention to chronic sexual violence perpetrated against our migrant neighbors. Clearly, as media coverage of the DSK scandal has illustrated, it is a more intriguing spectacle to focus on sexual violence (allegedly) committed by a high-ranking French economist than to focus on an epidemic of terror and violence in our own communities.
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Millions May Soon Be Fleeing the Floodwaters

OSLO, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - Mass migration will inevitably be part of human adaptation to climate change, experts agree, since parts of the world will become uninhabitable in the coming decades.

Last year, 38 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.

"Human displacement due to climate change is happening now. There is no need to debate it," Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway's minister of foreign affairs, told over 200 delegates attending the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century in Oslo Jun. 6-7.

Governments and the humanitarian community need to understand this fact - and that it will get much worse in the coming decades, Støre said. MORE
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
IMF Chief Allegedly Sexually Assaulted A Journalist In 2002

Read more... )

The Daily News has more information on the accuser:IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accused of sexually assaulting hotel maid, consents to DNA testing

Read more... )

And Lord knows she'll need every ounce of good reputation she can get, because there's a whole lot of "its a setup and the rest of the usual rape apologist bullshit going on!" stuff going on.

Read more... )


And there is a whole lot of...downplaying his predatory behaviour into his "weakness for women" and his "seducing of women" and "he had a real power of attraction", just WTF?????

Anyway, the political implications:The French Reaction to IMF chief's arrest

Read more... ) Oh great. Marvelous!

He's still in jail without bail at the moment.

ETA: Things wut I learned today: Violent crimes like rape typically do not have diplomatic immunity. Really??? CSI, you lied to me!

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